The causalities are piling up: Facebook exits by several friends, some just as the New Year began (resolutions?), others over the past several months.
One was driven away on his significant other’s insistence, another out of some unexplained need to take a break for the year. Yet another left, claiming she was being stalked and her departure was at the insistence of legal authorities for her own protection.
Another friend comes and goes all the time, claiming the need to purge from the negativity showing up in her stream.
I joined Facebook as a writing career move, prodded by an agent to establish my social platform. Naturally, many of my online friends are other writers, doing the same. Now I’m having doubts too, and I know that others have long had the same. What I have to say here is nothing new, but I’ll say it anyway.
I do what all my writer friends are doing – posting links to my blog, reading updates, publishing updates, – you know – marketing myself. This is the dark side of being creative. The very antithesis of it. But part of being artist is performing your work (i.e., getting published, presenting readings), and marketing yourself is an entree to both of those ends.
Yet the creative urge is fed by lots of time alone with the work. And not all the time you spend talking about your work.
The flipside is that I am on the receiving end of all of my writer friends’ marketing efforts, and along with my happiness for them when they succeed there always comes a stab in my belly that I’m not keeping up, that I should be doing more, that I’m not getting published enough, that I’m not winning enough awards, getting the important reviews, etc, etc, etc.
And that’s just the thing.
Affirmation (in the form of a Facebook like or number of views) creates the need for more – it’s a vicious cycle –there is not enough affirmation (Facebook liking) in the world, for anyone to ever feel validated. Loved.
You can’t get true affirmation from an impersonal system masquerading as a community that is really trying to pitch ads at you and make money for a Faceless corporation.
I wish I could be one of those people who just posts and moves on, invested with a power ego that doesn’t care if people like or hate what they say. To be honest, that was my goal when I naively joined up. That I could be the real person that I am, express my real opinions, and be better for it.
But I’m neither being real, honest, or feeling better for it.
Writer Sherry Turkle says, Facebook is the place “where you show your best self. It’s a place for good news, not the place where you talk about your most vulnerable self.”
And it’s true: Susan – the public persona as seen on Facebook is nowhere close to the real person that I am. The Facebook Susan is a curated façade, intended to help market me as a writer and, I admit, to share my other personal successes for your stamp of approval.
Again, this is not a new thought, just a realization of how artificial this community can be.
As much as I love to see my friends and family’s adorable baby and pet photos, as much as I do cherish new friends I’ve made only because of striking up a Facebook friendship, as much as I love to keep in touch with friends, old and new, I’m finding it harder and harder to give a thumbs up to the Facebook experience these days.
And I know I’m not alone. So there’s community in that, right?